An interview of the authors of “Intentional from the Start: Guiding Emergent Readers in Small Groups” by Carolyn Helmers and Susan Vincent. Interview done by Dr. Sam Bommarito

An interview of the authors of Intentional from the Start: Guiding Emergent Readers in Small Groups” by Carolyn Helmers and Susan Vincent. Interview done by Dr. Sam Bommarito

When I found out that Susan Vincent had co-authored a book with a friend and colleague, I knew that I wanted to interview them because their book would be of great interest to many of my readers. Both authors graciously agreed to do the interview. I want to thank them both for that. So, let us have a look at what I learned about them and their new book.

Here are a few facts about Carolyn taken from the Stenhouse website. Click this LINK for more information about Carolyn.

Here are a few facts about Susan taken from the Stenhouse website. Click this LINK for more information about Susan. In addition, click this link to see my previous interview of Susan as she talked about the efficacy of Reading Recovery and the success her former district had using the program. LINK.

As you can see from their biographies, both Susan and Carolyn have extensive, successful experience teaching emergent readers. After presenting about their work at a conference, they were approached about doing a book designed to give the teachers of young beginning readers insights and ideas for helping them to help the children they work with. The result was the book Intentional from the Start: Guiding Emergent Readers in Small Groups. I think my readers will find it to be a treasure trove of practical ready to use ideas about how to work effectively with young children as they begin the reading process. Here is a screen capture of the book’s cover and a link for previewing/ordering the book LINK.

In the interview, Carolyn and Susan talk about their book and the best practices they recommend based on their considerable successful experiences working with young children as those children begin the journey of becoming successful lifelong readers (and writers!). Here are the questions from the interview. They are time-stamped so you can go first to the parts of the interview that interest you the most. ENJOY!

  1. Each of you introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about you as a person, you as a teacher. (00:29)
  • Give us “The Big Picture” of the book. Talk briefly about Figure 1.1. (03:52)
  • Talk to us about the characteristics of an emergent reader. What advice do you have for teachers to become “intentional from the start”? (06:45)
  • Give us some key takeaways from your book, things teachers could begin implementing next week. (09:00)
  • What about the dyslexic child? What advice do you have? (13:21)

Closing thoughts ( 16:40)

I hope you found some useful ideas in the interview. I am currently working with emergent readers. I found Susan and Carolyn’s ideas about how to work with them in small group settings quite valuable. The book is now on my professional bookshelf and has already become a “go-to” resource for me.

Over the next few weeks, I will be continuing to interview literacy leaders about their newest books. Next week I talk to Ann Kay and Dr. Nina Kraus about the topic of using music to teach reading. Nina is a well-credentialed researcher. She talks about her new book Of Sound Mind: How Our Brain Constructs a Meaningful Sonic World. The book details her extensive, innovative brain research around sounds. Ann Kay has taken that research and done some highly successful workaround using music to teach reading (and writing!). The week after that I talk to David Harrison and Laura Robb about their new book Guided Practice for Reading Growth, Grades 4-8: Texts and Lessons to Improve Fluency, Comprehension, and Vocabulary. In it, they detail how they use poetry David wrote for their Close Reading program with intermediate-level students. David wrote the poetry to provide short passages to use in teaching the various topics that Laura identified as ones her 5th graders needed most.   Both of the upcoming interviews include many useful takeaways for teachers. So, until next time- Happy Reading and Writing.

Dr. Sam Bommarito, aka the centrist who uses ideas from all sides to inform his teaching

Copyright 2021 by Dr. Sam Bommarito. Views/interpretations expressed here are solely the view of this author and do not necessarily reflect the views of any other person or organization.

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